Follow Me {My Issues with Church after I’ve Been on a Mission Trip}

I walked in late.  The music was ending; people were taking their seats.  I felt my chest tighten as I entered; I did NOT want to be there.  But my sweet friend had a seat waiting for me in the fifth row.  I wanted to see her and honor her.

I didn’t feel well.  The chances I’d run for the bathroom in the midst of this?  High.  I had only been in this specific service once in almost three months.  But, my friend’s text compelled me to walk to the fifth row and sit my rear down.

Church.

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I struggle with church every time I return from a mission trip.  I want to shout…WHY ARE WE SITTING HERE?  PEOPLE ARE STARVING…DYING!  And, here I sit in my cute dress and jean jacket with sparkly sandals with my new Bible and journal, drinking my coffee from the café, relaxing in my cushy chair.

I KNOW there’s more to it than this, but this is simply how I felt.

My chest is so heavy.  And I repeat to myself…I will not cry.  I will not care.  This is how it is.  This the North American way.  Get over it.  You can’t save the world. 

I will not cry.  I will not cry.

And I know that my church is about to begin a new sermon series:  The Call to Missions. 

Can I even sit here and listen?  Can I even stand the thought of North Americans presuming to know what the world needs when most of us haven’t even asked?  We presume they need Jesus – and many do – but some know Him better than I do.

Here it goes…Week One:  Send.

The text?  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8

And I send up a silent prayer…please, Lord, please.  Open my heart.  Help me to hear this.  Help me to hear your heart through Glen’s words.  I hate this tension. I hate this struggle. 

I dutifully place my outline on my open bible and begin filling in blanks.

Section one:  What is a witness?  I learn a witness is one who testifies to what she’s perceived through her senses; to what someone said or wrote; to an area they have specialized knowledge of; about the reputation of a person or entity.

Ok, I get that.  I am called to be a witness.  I am to share with others what I’ve perceived (my experiences), what someone said or wrote (the Bible), an area I have specialized knowledge of (maybe my mission trips), and about the reputation of a person or entity (Jesus).

Am I doing that?  Really?

Section two:  What am I to testify about? (And here’s where God kicks me in the behind…)

The personal Jesus in my own life.

Oh my…am I telling others about the personal Jesus in my own life?  Am I even acknowledging the work He’s doing in my life or am I too busy being irritated with others and what they are or aren’t doing?

When did THIS…church…life…my faith…switch to others and not Jesus?

Did I come home and share the Jesus I met through people in Honduras?  Did I share the stories I witnessed?  Am I testifying to His amazing work in people and in a country stricken with poverty?

Ummm…no.  I haven’t.  I am not.  Well, maybe once or twice.

But, many of my conversations post-Honduras have centered on frustrations with missions and people who like comfortable and “don’t get it.”

Yikes.

At some point, I started focusing on the people – and I am called to love others, so I know that people are important – but my focus on people caused me to turn my eyes away from Jesus.

The Bible says to love God and love others.  Notice…love God is first.  I desire to love others because HE first loved me.  (Luke 10, Mark 12, and Matthew 22)

When I “go” for people and not Jesus…when I become the one who “saves” or “helps” – and I begin doing that with my strength and plans – I am trouble.

I am playing God.  It’s prideful.

I sit in my cushy chair, sipping my vanilla coffee – conflicted and convicted.  My friend slips me a note asking if I’ll  speak about Honduras in next week’s service. Such a request would usually be met with a quick no.  But, in that moment if I say no, how am I witnessing? Testifying?

I want those without a voice to be given a voice.  I want the stories told and people helped. But, if I am unwilling to do the work – to tell – to send – to go, then who?

I reply to his request with…I’d be honored.  And, I am.

The closing song begins to play

You live among the least of these, the weary and the weak

And it would be a tragedy for me to turn away

All my needs You have supplied

When I was dead You gave me life

How could I not give it away so freely?
And I’ll  follow You into the homes of the broken

I’ll follow You into the world

I’ll meet the needs for the poor and the needy

God, I’ll follow You into the world
Use my hands, use my feet to make Your kingdom come

To the corners of the earth until Your work is done
‘Cause faith without works is dead

And on the cross Your blood was shed

So how could we not give it away so freely?
And I’ll follow You into the homes of the broken

Follow You into the world

Meet the needs for the poor and the needy, God

I’ll follow You into the world
Follow You into the homes of the broken

I’ll follow You into the world

Behind the words scrolled pictures I’d taken a year ago in Honduras. No coincidence, I’m sure.

I am undone.  I will not cry becomes I will not sob.

I will not follow people; I will follow Him…into the world until His work is done.

And, I am thankful for a church who is diligently and prayerfully presenting a sermon series on missions. May it continue to open hearts and change minds as we seek Him together.

Comments

  1. Great, moving, loving, blessed reading this!

  2. Vanessa says:

    First of all: I love reading your blog. Secondly, I thought I would flip when I saw the picture of the church in this blog. When I was growing up, the “Ash Church” (my maiden name was Ash) on Big Sancho in Tyler County looked SO MUCH like this one. We used to hold Annual Sunday School Conventions there; everyone for miles around and those who used to would come “home”, enjoy Sunday School in the morning, a picnic lunch, and lots of individuals and groups would sing all afternoon. The church is now a residence and no longer resembles a house of God. But without the window in front in this picture, it would be the spitting image of the Ash Church, two front doors, bell tower, and all. Thanks, not only for your blog that I always love to read, but for bringing back some very special memories.

    • You’re so sweet, Vanessa…thanks!! I LOVE that this picture brought back great memories for you. God is so good to meet us where we are and provide what we need. I hope you’re feeling better!

  3. Adriana K. Mattica says:

    Beautiful and wise words to those who struggle with “coming home” after a mission trip or after living on the mission field. It is so hard not to be judgmental and think more highly of ourselves than we ought. Thank you for sharing.

    • You’re welcome, Adriana. Please know that we appreciate all you do. When Jen and I chatting about Revive, your name often comes up. We love how you love on your fellow servants so well. May God continue to bless your work in Honduras.

  4. Sarah, how this blessed and convicted me…thanks for being in our home and for allowing us to share about God’s work through Campo Yazu Ministries…love you, girlfriend!

  5. The change begins with her & us. We pray the Holy Spirit to convict the rest.

  6. Glenn Perry says:

    Sarah, wow! Your love for the Lord and passion to serve Him moves me. Chris and I are so looking forward to growing and ministering with you. God has set our course for a great adventure and we are blessed to have you push us! Glenn

  7. I’m glad you accepted the invitation to speak.

    Even though I read about the boy laying the plank when you first posted it, it was even more powerful when I heard you talk about it. Maybe because I had the photos in my head already. Mabye some other reason.

    I shared the story of your conviction about the young boy being more missions-minded with someone in a letter this morning.

    • Thanks so much, Marilyn:) As you know…I don’t like speaking or standing on a stage. But, I simply felt God say…if not you, then who? I have asked God many times to help me give others voice, and I always think He will answer through my blog. But, this time, he answered another way. It was a blessing.

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